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Chineke! and BSO Change Makers shine at 2019 RPS Awards

Chineke!, Britain’s first majority Black and Minority Ethnic orchestra, has won the new Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Gamechanger Award for ‘an individual, group or organisation who in unique and contemporary ways has done inspirational and transformative work breaking new ground in classical music’.

Chi-chi Nwankoku OBE, Founder, Artistic & Executive Director of Chineke!, said:

‘It is a great honour for Chineke! to receive the first Royal Philharmonic Society Gamechanger Award. For Chineke!’s work across the UK over the past four years to have been recognised in this way is a huge accolade for the organisation and we will be proud champions of everything that the RPS stands for and is striving to achieve as we continue with our mission of ‘championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music’.’

The 2019 RPS Award ceremony took place on 28 November at Battersea Arts Centre in London.

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra‘s Change Makers and Resound won the Impact Award for ‘for an outstanding initiative or organisation that has a lasting positive impact for people who may not otherwise experience classical music’.

BSO Resound musicians Photo credit Deep South Media
BSO Resound musicians Photo credit Deep South Media

In the last year, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra has adapted much of its practice to be more inclusive for disabled musicians, and established the first professional disabled-led ensemble.

Dougie Scarfe, BSO Chief Executive, said:

‘Music by its nature is inclusive. We hope that this win ignites similar conversations, ensuring more people can access concert platforms and build careers as performers. We’re thrilled that the BSO has been recognised with one of the highest accolades in classical music; this is an important moment in building a more inclusive profession.’

Classical music’s highest honour, the coveted RPS Gold Medal, was presented to composer Sofia Gubaidulina, who travelled to London specially to accept her award. Born in 1931, Gubaidulina is renowned as one of the great composers of the last century.

Gubaidulina said:

‘This award is especially precious because it comes as we are preparing to celebrate the 250th birthday of Beethoven. To that great composer belongs the merit of affirming in his work the love of harmony – which is the true meaning of the word ‘Philharmonic’. Let us hope that this may be a unique moment in the history of music – when growth for all mankind can really be achieved through works of art. I am infinitely grateful to the Royal Philharmonic Society for the honour that I have been shown.’

Header photo: members of Chineke! with Chi-chi Nwankoku OBE, Founder, Artistic & Executive Director (second from right)